Liberia′s Charles Taylor appeals war crimes conviction | News | DW | 19.07.2012
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Liberia's Charles Taylor appeals war crimes conviction

Former Liberian president Charles Taylor is to fight against his previous conviction as a war criminal in April. At the same time, prosecutors are calling for a tougher sentence against the "blood diamonds" strongman.

The former Liberian president Charles Taylor is appealing his conviction for carrying out war crimes during Sierra Leone's civil war, and is to contest a 50-year jail sentence that was subsequently handed down to him, it emerged on Thursday.

"Charles Taylor respectfully requests that the appeals chamber reverse all the findings of guilt and conviction entered against him and vacate the judgment," stated a request by the defense, released by the Special Court for Sierra Leone on Thursday.

The defense also pointed to "systematic errors" in the analysis of evidence and claimed that the case against Taylor relied on "uncorroborated hearsay evidence as the sole basis for specific incriminating findings of fact."

Prosecutors call for tougher sentence

The development coincided with the prosecution's announcement on Thursday that it would appeal the Special Court's decision to acquit Taylor for more serious charges. They also called on the judiciary to extend his sentence to 80 years in prison.

Taylor was convicted of war crimes as well as crimes against humanity in April for his role in the 1991-2001 civil war that rocked Sierra Leone. The ruling secured Taylor's ignominious insertion in the history books as the first former head of state since World War II to be convicted by an international court.

Taylor was found guilty on 11 counts of arming rebels during the war in exchange for "blood diamonds." But charges that the former strongman had directly ordered massacres failed to stick during his trial.

Taylor was president of Liberia for six years between 1997 and 2003. He went into exile in Nigeria in 2003, after caving into international pressure. He was arrested in March 2006 when he later tried to flee Nigeria and was transferred to the Hague.

sej/slk (AP, AFP)